What Does “Post 9/11 World” Really Mean?

July 27, 2007

This is one of those posts that I put out there in the spirit of opening a discussion, rather than hoping to make a specific point.  Or, maybe I do have a point. You decide.

For the longest time, I thought that just using the phrase “post-9/11 world” was an exercise in giving the terrorist perpetrators too much credit.  After all, why give them the satisfaction of giving them a “world” that they “created”?  Why should we allow the extreme actions of 19 people effect us so?

What really changed, anyway?  Now we know that we need to lock the cockpit doors of airliners,  and that we should check carry-on items for knives.  That, and we should be wary of people who take flying lessons but aren’t interested in learning how to land the plane.  But beyond that?  Intelligence agencies already knew about al Qaeda and terrorism.  How has the world really changed?

This is the part where my statements may begin to be unpopular…

The September 11th attacks, as terrible as they were, were not catastrophic to the country as a whole.  Al Qaeda managed to kill roughly 3,000 people, take out 4 commercial airplanes and destroy two of the world’s tallest buildings.  It was horrifying to watch, and for those directly affected by the tragedy, it is doubtful that their lives will ever be the same.   However, on a scale of the conceivable attacks that the modern world might allow, the actual devastation would appear to be relatively minor.  Terror attacks happen every day.  Some may kill a hundred or so people, while others, like the incident in Glasgow, kill no one (although they still register a fear effect).  But considering the devastation that WMD’s (especially nuclear weapons) would create, I think it’s important to keep things in a sort of cold-hearted perspective.

I suggest that for this discussion we create a hypothetical scale.  On one end of the spectrum, we would put a Glasgow-level attack, and on the other, a “Jericho” scenario.


On this scale, where would one put the 9/11 attacks?  My guess is it would certainly be closer to Glasgow than Jericho.  A lot closer.  The Jericho scenario would have an effect on Americans that would be quite tangible.  Even if you weren’t killed in the attack itself, the effect on your life would undoubtedly be significant.  It’s a scenario that would effectively reduce America to a 3rd world country.  In fact, the only Americans that wouldn’t be tangibly effected by this kind of an attack would be the Amish (although that is even debatable).  In contrast, the effect of 9/11 was more in the collective mindset of Americans than anything else.  Wall Street took a short timeout, as did air traffic. For the vast majority of Americans, however, life went on as usual after about a week.  We went shopping, played baseball, and watched TV just as we did on 9/10.  It’s a stretch, but if you pretend that the actual devastation of 9/11 was the result of a freak accident, it would have been a relatively small blip on the screen of history.

While it is clear that a “post-Jericho” world would be a very different world, what does a “post-9/11” world really mean?  I don’t want to downplay 9/11, but considering the possibilities that are out there that could really change our world, perhaps we are giving the phrase too much weight.  In reality, we may be giving al Qaeda what they wanted as well.

BTW- In case you’re curious as to what inspired this post, I’d have to say that it was the literally the back of a  DVD jewel case (the Running Man DVD contains a special feature entitled “Lockdown on Main Street” – Documentary about the current state of privacy and criminal issues in a post 9/11 society).  What can I say?  It got me thinking.  I’m weird that way.

And an important exit question:  What does George Bush really mean when he refers to “the lessons of  9/11”?  Is it merely an exploitation of the fear associated with the tragedy? 

Also, for a little background see: My Thoughts On 9/11 And Iraq


  1. Is anyone in a state of fear ? It’s not fair to answer questions with a question so I’ll offer a little something.
    The US,it’s citizens and the West were given final notice on 9/11 that there was a group of people at war with us.Different leadership might have refused to take a war standing and continue the “policing” of international terrorism.
    Human nature can shrug of the most tragic of accidents. You miss people when they die-there’s a whole different component when they are killed.In a sense the events of 9/11 had that.
    The diversity of American thinking allows us to accept 9/11, desire the initial revenge and trail off as time goes by. W’s continued reference to the lessons of 9/11 is part exploitation for support of policy. Part reminder that maybe we should stay on our toes.

  2. I was under the impression that Bush used “the lessons of 9/11” as justification to invade Iraq, but I performed a fairly rigorous search of the White House website, and I discovered that the phase was really only widely used after the invasion. It appears that he’s used it in a defensive manner.

  3. While I agree that the attack as compared a nuclear attack would look rather small. But I think its a mistake to look at all these events through the prism of the “I hate Bush” conga line. 9/11 was a wake up call, and the only one that actually got our attention. All the others had been simply ingored or resulted in a midnight aspirin factory attack. To me “post 9/11” is clear. We are now on notice that groups will continue and are very capable of ramping up their attacks on us until it gets our attention. As the first poster said, this is notice that we should stay on our toes. Ignoring it simply because a person dislikes who is in office, does not make it go away. We should be very careful in who we elect next, terrorist will love having a wimpy, politically correct, cowering, apologetic, blame america firster in office!

  4. 9/11 is a first notice?? You must be joking. Our foreign policy has provoked what must now be numbered as an infinite number of ‘notices’ that we are pissing people off. Should we change our foreign policy because of that? I don’t know, but I’d like to think it’s being discussed. Do we have legitimate enemies? Yes. Did they just wake up on 9/11? No, did you?

  5. Another angle that many people don’t bring up is the fact that 9/11 was more than simply an attempt to kill as many Americans as possible on a single day. The killing was just a means to an end, and not the end itself. It was a provocation. They wanted us to respond the way we did:

    “But I did manage to have a conversation with a source that weekend. The person told me that there was some concern about an intercept that had been picked up. The incident that had gotten everyone’s attention was a conversation between two members of Al Qaeda. And they had been talking to one another, supposedly expressing disappointment that the United States had not chosen to retaliate more seriously against what had happened to the Cole. And one Al Qaeda operative was overheard saying to the other, ‘Don’t worry; we’re planning something so big now that the US will have to respond.’

    This battle isn’t about being wimpy or strong or tough or weak on terrorism. It’s about being smart.

  6. Do you think they got what they expected (Afghanistan)
    I posted on this and have shared this link w/others re:AQ and how the have evolved amongst their allies.For the most part negatively. It also offered a great look at the makeup of the AQ Taleban alliance

  7. All of you know-nothing idiots are living in a false reality scientifically crafted by social engineers through the media which you apparently suck down with gusto every night from the boob-tube. Ba-a-a-ah. Ba-a-ah. What a bunch of dumb sheep! You really do disgust me.

    Sorry to disturb you. Now go back to sleep.

  8. PJ, your tin foil hat is in the mail. There’s something about kids like you; the empty arrogance, the hilarious notion that you and your ilk are in possesion of facts no one else in the world has, and then…and then you post something that abjectly proves you are a inarticulate mental child. Wow, how proud you must be….go back to day care junior

  9. I’ve given all the ‘truther’ arguments a pretty good review and I have to say that I’ve yet to be convinced. As I posted in the “My thoughts” link up there, all the evidence is just circumstantial. I usually don’t mind the ‘truther’ stuff too much because I consider myself to be very open minded, but what pj posted there was kinda rude. Oh well.

  10. Everyone seems to forget that Bin Laden declared war on the US during the Clinton administration.
    The year was 1998 IIRC, we had a Democrat president, the Cold War was over, we had a “peace dividend” and Clinton was systematically dismantling the military.
    So, what exactly did we do to piss off certain segments of the world back then? Or is it just so easy to blame it all on Bush?

    And Chen, if you get any more “open minded” your brains are going to fall out, so be careful.

  11. Small note: As someone who has actually learned to fly a plane, there is no way to learn to fly without learning to land.

  12. […] 31st, 2007 · No Comments The blogger ChenZhen asks a rather thought-provoking question, one which I believe deserves an answer. Since his question took up an entire blog post, I […]

  13. […] Sophist’s entry “The Post 9/11 World” (which, incidentally, was a response to my post on that subject).  My comment was relatively long, so I figured I might as well reprint it here.  […]

  14. […] August 2nd, 2007 · No Comments Chenzen and I are having a spirited, but I think rather polite and rational, debate about the terribly misnomered War on Terror in the comments section of my Post 9/11 World post, which in turn was a response to a question he asked. […]

  15. The sheer lunacy of comparing the 9/11 attacks to any televison drama explains why so many obese and otherwise addled Americans sit in front of their TV’s, fantasizing about an evil all powerfull white man in Washington, instead of actually living lives.

    Hey kids, who’s worse, Dr. Evil or G.W. Bush?

  16. Michael: re: “tin foil hats”

    You were right. I was inarticulate, not for the reasons you gave, but because I got so pissed off at seeing so much crap (especially in your comment) in one place that I was speechless. I just blew my top and tapped that comment off and I knew it would draw out a cockroach or two, and voila there you are. You really are a slimy arrogant unAmerican traitorous piece of crap protecting a corrupt government. 9/11 was an inside job proved by firefighters, and other personnel such as the heroic head custodian William Rodriguez, who were in the buildings before they collapsed, who experienced bombs going off before and during the collapses, who watched with amazement as building 7 imploded uniformly from the foundations down despite the fact that the fires there were relatively small and restricted to one side and three floors. Now I know you hate the firefighters and Mr Rodriguez, but can you really sit there and tell us that they are all liars? There are dozens of others who lost friends and coworkers who have publically stated that they heard and saw bombs going off all around them and had stairwells blow up under their feet fifty stories below the points of impact. Cleanup crews reported masses of molten steel in the sub-basements, “flowing down the channel rails like lava” for not days, not weeks, but for a full month after the event took place. Are you saying they are are tin foil hat wearers too? I know you didn’t know this because you are too busy spreading disinformation, but the fact of the matter is, jet fuel doesn’t melt steel. I know because I was a firefighter myself and put out a number of jet-fuel fires to find steel scortched, but completely unscathed. Common sense alone should tell you that about steel, but your buddies at Fox News keep telling us fire melts steel. I wonder why? 9/11 was an inside job because there were bombs planted in all three of the buildings that collapsed that day. End of story. No, you don’t see 9/11 as a “wake up call”. You see it as an opportunity to put people to sleep so that a dictatorship can use this event for a “New World Order” dictatorship as stated by Gary Hart at the CFR. You got nothin to refute me with and you are nothin.You are the juvenile mental midget Michael. You have used up your tin foil hat drivel, so I guess you’ll have to come up with something original this time.


  17. Come on, let’s hear somebody else tell me it’s about tinfoil hats again because that’s all you got. You people got no facts, no rebuttal because you don’t know anything about 9/11 except what the boob-tube tells you. Deep down, you know I’m right, but you’re too chicken-livered to accept it. None of you has the BALLS or the moral backbone to face up to it because that would mean you have confront the horror of it and then do something about it to save your country. Oh no, it’s so much easier to just go along with a corrupt government like a bunch of damn spineless sheep traitors. Like I said, you all disgust me, especially Michael the scumbag cockroach.

    Interview with John Schroeder, 911 FIREMAN about explosions

    William Rodriguez (man who saved John Schroeder’s life) Interview About Numerous Explosions – the first explosion happened BEFORE the first plane hit!

    Numerous Firemen Describe Pre-Collapse WTC Explosions

    Building 7 Controlled Demolition

    This is just the smallest tip of the iceberg. The evidence is profound and vast. I don’t have time to give you even one thousandth of a percent of the preponderance of evidence. You better wake up and you better start researching it yourselves. Then you will be forced to make a decision: join with the government terrorists, or join with the patriots who are defending America. Michael, I already know you made your decision to sell your sick soul to evil, so I don’t need to hear from you. But if you want to display your sickness here again, be my guest.

  18. […] And what was it about 9/11 that made Saddam more dangerous?  I can’t think of anything.  It’s a fallacy.  this sort of ties into my previous thread: What Does “Post 9/11 World” Really Mean? […]

  19. Look at me!

    By the way, what do you think about this icons site?

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